02/06/2013 02:05 pm ET

Parent Cliques

Almost 20 years later, it's still a painful memory for Sandi Pilon. To hear her describe it, her daughter’s school sounds more like an exclusive club than a popular public elementary -- one known for its energetic parent body that raised tens of thousands dollars every year and had helped transform the school into one of the most “it” schools in San Francisco --then in the process of expanding from an elementary to a K-8 school. Says Pilon: “I remember talking with another mom who also felt excluded, about how difficult it was to infiltrate the group. We could never participate with the formal PTA group. You'd go to a PTA meeting and they'd ignore you."

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